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View Full Version : Just a few thoughts about the laser business



Scott Shepherd
02-08-2008, 10:45 AM
I have recently been thinking about what I have learned about this business in the last year. I thought it would be interesting for others to input their wisdom and humor. Some truth, some jokes, you determine which one is which :)

Here are a few from me :

You'll always need the material you don't have for a rush job.
Trying to get a purchasing agent to understand what a jpeg is and why it won't work is like trying to teach a 1st grader calculus.
You will never hear from all those people who said they have loads of work for you.
You'll have to darn near beg some people to sell you products they have.
When people say they really want to do business with you, don't expect to ever hear from them again.
No matter what laser and options you bought, you wish you could have done something different.
Backup your files. Computer problems are like a cold, you never know when you'll wake up with the sniffles. Only problem is when your computer is sick, you lose money.
Don't believe the hype of any laser demo. They demo things they are very good at doing. If you ran the same part every day, you'd be good at it too. There is no substitute for taking your own samples to buy a laser and making them work through the issues.
You'll probably never hear from your salesman again.
You'll never call the salesman for a tech support issue. 9 times out of 10 you know more about Corel and the Machine than he does.
Lasers have a very nice markup and the list price is a long way away from the actual price you should pay. You can expect substantial discounts on the top brands.
You should see demos of the same files on various machines. Watching each manufacturer do their demo is somewhat pointless. It's comparing apples to oranges. Make them all run the same files so you can compare apples to apples.
You'll have machine problems minutes after tech support closes for a long holiday.
You'll always get requests for work slightly or radically outside your comfort zone.
You'll get a lot of requests for things you can't make with your machine.
You need some good partners who can fill the needs of #13.
You can't believe everything you read on the internet about pricing.
The speed/power settings everyone else swear by won't work for you.
What “works a treat” for everyone else won't work for you.
If a sample runs successfully, then the rest of the lot will be a pain.
Cutting extruded acrylic or rubber pisses off anyone remotely close.
You can forget what a weekend is. Take pictures so you can refer back to them when you're working.
The guy you make a free keychain for will order thousands of dollars worth of work.
The guy you make 100 free keychains for won't order anything from you.
Corel X5 will be released two days after you get X4.
Corel X5 will have the one feature you've been needing.
And finally......you'll meet a heck of a lot of great people in your journey. Just a little bit of fun this morning. Hopefully we'll get some additional tips from others. Feel free to add to the list!

Tony Severenuk (Corel)
02-08-2008, 11:01 AM
Corel X5 will be released two days after you get X4. >>>FWIW, you've got a while :>
Corel X5 will have the one feature you've been needing.>>Only if those guys in Ottawa pay attention

Brian Robison
02-08-2008, 11:04 AM
Thanks Scott,
Good reading!

Mike Null
02-08-2008, 1:13 PM
Scott

You forgot one...........

The biggest problem with my machine is me.

Or another...

When all else fails read the instructions.

Sandra Force
02-08-2008, 1:47 PM
You missed 28-32.

28. If there is a complicated special project the laser WILL develope a
hickup that takes 6 hours to iron out.
29. The person who does the drawing/artwork will add numerous things
it that you asked them to leave out.
30. There will always be a snow storm/ tornado/ etc between you and a
rush order.
31. The person ordering will call 5 minutes after you get the art work
asking "is it done yet".
32. You need to always aske for the MSDS of a material that you have
not used before. It is suprising what is hidden in that information.:cool:


There are a few more but these are my favorites. This morning it was 28 and 31. I had told them that my big machine was down and they checked in every 15 minutes to see if their stuff was done yet. You can guess my reaction by the 3rd call/drop in.:eek:

Benedict Roussos
02-08-2008, 3:44 PM
33.A client hurry to get his job done and hasitates to pay
34.A client hurry to get his job done and comes to take it after many
days and phone calls
35.A client asks if is smoking permited in your office after he has light up
his cigar although he has seen the non smoking signs.
36.When you are waiting for supplies and you are in a hurry to start
engraving you realize that your wholesaler has sent you wrong order.

Vicky Orsini
02-08-2008, 4:12 PM
Wow! I never realized you folks had hidden cameras in my shop! :D

Paul Brinkmeyer
02-08-2008, 5:18 PM
And yes, I can laser full color on the Granite headstone.
(AS long as full color is black and white.)

Gregg Vaughn
02-08-2008, 5:59 PM
#37 Read, proof read, re-read, spell check, study, stare at and double check BEFORE you press the print button.

Darren Null
02-08-2008, 6:13 PM
37a. No, I can't take my machine there.
38. Even if I could, I wouldn't be engraving mirrors from the front.
39. I do understand that when you say 10,000 units, you actually mean 25 that you expect to get as a free sample.
40. I do understand that when you have a rush job that absolutely MUST be done before the morning and when I arrange to meet at nearly midnight to collect the goods to be engraved that a) you will be 45 minutes late (thankfully it was in a pub) and that b) the materials won't be collected for nearly 3 weeks.
41. Look. If it doesn't fit in the machine, I can't engrave it.
42. No, I can't take the laser out and do it by hand. Particularly not in a hotel FULL of mirrors. I've got the goggles matey, and I wouldn't like to be in there when somebody tries it.
43. I don't know if it can do tattoos or branding. I would never do something that radical without testing. I've spent more than 40 years avoiding personal damage, with moderate success. Plus the smell of burnt hair is pretty revolting.
44. No credit. Ever.
45. A corollary to the above. I will believe I've been paid when I'm holding the cash and I've checked the notes. All of them.
46. Having a flash car and a big house is no indication of your financial standing. At the very least, you probably didn't get them by being nice to people.
47. You will put down a deposit covering the materials, plus a bit.
48. No, I'm not interested in reciprocal services to cover the job. Lasering is how I pay the bills, which requires cash, I'm afraid. Unless it's something I really want.

Jeanette Brewer
02-08-2008, 7:47 PM
49. You can't believe everything you read on the internet about laser sales reps. ;)

Scott Shepherd
02-08-2008, 9:27 PM
49. You can't believe everything you read on the internet about laser sales reps. ;)

LOL :) Jeanette, you know we all LOVE Roy! He's one of the guys picking up the slack for all the rest of them ;)

Larry Bratton
02-08-2008, 9:40 PM
50. No, I don't do eye surgery with it.
51. Trying to explain why the photo they e-mailed can't be engraved 18"x24" is difficult.
52. Almost forgot..Why isn't the logo on my business card what you need? Grrrrrrr

Vicky Orsini
02-08-2008, 10:19 PM
52. Almost forgot..Why isn't the logo on my business card what you need? Grrrrrrr You mean you actually turn people away when they hand you a beat up business card and ask you to work with that graphic?? :confused:

Bill Cunningham
02-09-2008, 9:39 PM
I have this one on my website in the section that says there is a good chance I 'might' have the clipart/graphic you want for your shot glasses:

"NO I do not have a picture of a one legged man jumping hurdles carrying a beer keg"

#53 Just when you think you have your required graphics format information page, absolutely 'fool proof'.. Along comes a brand new 'fool'....

Scott Shepherd
03-03-2008, 9:22 PM
#54) If you go to do a job that someone else did before you, you can bet a few things-A)They used at least 3 different fonts for the same things B)They used at least 3 different colors of materials by different manufacturers C) Your work will go next to the oldest, most faded work.

#55) The color of the material won't be available and it won't be a standard spray paint color. You'll spend at least 4 hours tracking the color down, buying a gallon of it when you need a teaspoon worth.

Leigh Costello
03-05-2008, 1:08 AM
53. NO, there are no short cuts. I will call you when your job is finished and standing there waiting will not make me work faster. In fact, I probably won't work at all while you are standing there. Leave.

54. If I have to pay freight in and you want me to pay freight out, then your price will be higher.

55. All lasers are not the same so if the "other guy" is available, and can do it so much faster, why are you here?

56. I get sick too. I get better and sometimes I get sick again. So please understand when I say "don't sneeze on me or my machine."

Sometimes I get a little agitated and while I wish I could say the above, most times I just smile and picture a large bird just waiting for the right opportunity.;)

Stephen Beckham
03-05-2008, 4:15 PM
57. Sign that reads:
Standard Laser time - $1 per minute


If you watch - $2 per minute


If you help - $5 per minute
58. Is it hot? Not sure, never been able to keep my hand still long enough to tell.

59. Yes - you have to pay for another one - even if I'm making it just so you can see it done again...

60. Do I mind if you tell your friends that I do this (laser work)? Only if you friends don't mind paying.

61. Would it be cheaper for me to buy my own laser to make these things? (Fella that had some acrylic cutouts made for a couple $$ each) If you plan on having 20 thousand made!

Scott Shepherd
03-05-2008, 4:41 PM
62. If you have 3 fonts to pick from, they will pick 1 of the 3. If you have 1000 fonts, they won't be able to find any they like.

63. You'll never have the font that matches what they already have.

Ray Mighells
03-05-2008, 9:29 PM
When the count gets to 100 I'm going to print it ... again.

Phyllis Meyer
03-06-2008, 12:04 PM
...did you pay for your laser? I guess my mama taught me to never ask a question such as that! I try to come up with the most unique answers...anyone got any?

53. The bigger the company/job, the longer they take to pay!

Phyllis:)

Dee Gallo
03-06-2008, 12:55 PM
Along the same lines: how long did it take you to make that?

I tell them it's like playing a trumpet...all you do is blow into the hole and press the three buttons, right? Here, now you play a song.

I don't think this qualifies for a number, but it is the number one question I get.

- dee

Sandra Force
03-06-2008, 1:30 PM
54. No matter how many fonts you have the person wanting a rush order will bring you the 1 that you don't have.

55. There is always a person who walks in the door with an high proffit emergency when you are suppose to meet your partner in 10 minutes.:D

Dee Gallo
03-06-2008, 1:48 PM
Hey Sandee - change your numbers to 65 and 66. Phyllis threw off the count!

This thread is extremely amusing! And so full of truth it's scary...

Dan Hintz
03-06-2008, 2:42 PM
How long did it take you to make that?
That's not really a hard question to answer. I would say "30 minutes... but it took me ten years to learn how to make it that quickly." :p

George Elston
03-08-2008, 5:25 PM
...did you pay for your laser? I guess my mama taught me to never ask a question such as that! I try to come up with the most unique answers...anyone got any?



Phyllis:)
My standard answer is "More than a car but less than a house." And it's true.

Bill Cunningham
03-09-2008, 9:53 PM
I bought my house in 1970, and my laser actually cost about a thousand dollars 'more' than I paid for my house :D

Scott Shepherd
04-03-2008, 12:46 PM
67) Never tell a customer the job is ready until it's actually in your hand and ready.

Nancy Laird
04-03-2008, 12:57 PM
68. When a customer asks you to make a couple of samples "for approval", don't count on ever hearing from him again--not even when you try to call him back.

Vicky Orsini
04-03-2008, 3:48 PM
68. When a customer asks you to make a couple of samples "for approval", don't count on ever hearing from him again--not even when you try to call him back.
Grrrr!!! There's a little nugget of wisdom I've had to learn the hard way! :mad:

John Bowden
04-03-2008, 4:01 PM
Glad to hear I'm not the only one!

Stephen Beckham
04-03-2008, 11:02 PM
Phew... 'nother one here in the boat with you guys... I put a 'company logo' of mine in every sample now - telling the customer that it will not be in the final version, but is there because of past experiences. All final approval samples are paid for in advance!

Bill Cunningham
04-06-2008, 11:24 PM
People who want 'sample' name badges are pretty common.. I usually give them a sample of someone else's, noting that 'this' is the quality that they will receive.. If they would like a sample of 'their' badge the usual charges will apply, with any special setups deducted from from the future order..

Barbara Buhse
04-07-2008, 5:34 PM
Charge for the samples, then take it off the final bill.

Barbara Buhse
04-07-2008, 5:36 PM
Along the same lines: how long did it take you to make that?

I tell them it's like playing a trumpet...all you do is blow into the hole and press the three buttons, right? Here, now you play a song.

I don't think this qualifies for a number, but it is the number one question I get.

- dee


I'm going to print that out and memorize it...

one of my "best customers" likes to tell people... "yeah, they have a machine that does it, just put in a photo"
He thinks hes giving us good press this way.

Barbara Buhse

Rodne Gold
04-07-2008, 6:18 PM
You can treat samples 3 ways
1) Customer pays full single unit price plus any artwork and setup fees
2) Its free cos its for approval on a big confirmed order
3) It's free cos you betting you get the job , it's the ante....

We only use no 3 when the numbers are likely to be big and the item is fairly small or low cost to produce.

Scott Shepherd
08-11-2009, 9:09 PM
Saw Michael's post about 5 months into the business and thought I'd bring this back to the front to get more input from others.